UK Politics

Rory Stewart to chair defence committee, Speaker announces

Rory Stewart
Image caption Mr Stewart has worked as a BBC TV presenter and written a book about his extensive travels in Afghanistan

Conservative MP Rory Stewart has been selected to chair the Commons defence committee.

In a short statement to the Commons, Speaker John Bercow said 479 MPs voted in the election for the post.

In the final round of voting, Mr Stewart got 226 votes. His rival, Julian Lewis received 212 votes. There was one spoilt ballot paper.

Mr Stewart replaces Conservative MP James Arbuthnot, who announced in January that he would resign in May.

Mr Bercow said: "May I be the first on behalf of all colleagues in the House warmly to congratulate Mr Stewart and I'm sure I speak for all colleagues also in thanking all of the other candidates who took part in the election."

A former member of the diplomatic service who became deputy governor of two provinces in southern Iraq after the 2003 invasion, Mr Stewart became MP for Penrith and the Border in 2010.

Before entering Parliament, he had served briefly in the Army, walked 6,000 miles across Asia between 2000 and 2002, and founded an Afghanistan-based charity in 2005.

He has published books about his travels in Afghanistan and his experiences in Iraq, and currently serves on the Commons foreign affairs committee.

Mr Arbuthnot said he wanted to prevent any perceived "conflict of interest" if he applies for a job in the arms trade after the next election.

He had previously announced that he would leave Parliament rather than seek re-election when the UK goes to the polls in 2015.

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